At 105 years-old, Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera is not slowing down.
She has been working as an artist for most of her life although it was not until 2004, at the age of 89, that her first painting was sold. Since then, her work has been recognized and acquired by major museums such as Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts among many others.
Today, as one of the Art world’s most celebrated abstract artist, Herrera continues to work every day as she has for decades in her New York City studio. On one such day she shared with us what it means to be a female artist, living through pandemics and encouraging words for other women in the Arts. It is due to her relentless passion to create that Herrera serves as an inspiration and a true woman of purpose.
- You still get up every morning and sketch. What does your workplace look like? And what inspires you these days?
Nothing has changed in decades. I like it that way. My orchids in front of my desk by the window change, they are getting better and keep coming back and back. The building across the street has changed. They are creating a monster. In here it is still 1960.
- You had to wait long for a recognition in the art world, selling your first painting at the age of 89, but were consistently committed to your passion and never gave up. How did you managed to not lose faith?
Being ignored is a form of freedom… you feel free to do as you please and the hell with the critics.
- What does it mean to be a woman in art?
We bring the vision and perspective of half the population of the world. Imagine how much richness has been ignored for centuries. It is better now, I think.
- Are there any new exhibitions or projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
I hope the sets we made for the Royal Ballet in London for Wayne McGregor will be presented at Covent Garden, this and a few other plans are being affected by the tragedy of the pandemic. I lived through the one in 1919, I remember my older sister wearing a mask. They call it the Spanish Flu, but it was not Spanish.
I also hope the exhibit at the Mori in Tokyo will happen. Can you imagine, my work in Tokyo! There is also a group exhibit at the Pompidou, and they will show my Paris paintings. Paris in 1950, my being there was so important for me and for my work.
- Your story is such an inspiration for a young female artist. Are there any words you live by that you can share to encourage them?
Do what you love and love what you do. Work, work, work and pray a for a bit of luck.